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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 17 September, 2019
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Cronin power and brilliant Byrne drop-goal earn Leinster dramatic win

Dan Biggar had a late chance to win the game for Ospreys, but pushed his penalty attempt wide to let the league leaders off the hook.

Image: CameraSport/Simon King/INPHO

Ospreys 18

Leinster 20

ROSS BYRNE’S LAST minute drop-goal sealed a dramatic 20-18 triumph at the Ospreys to keep Leinster in command of the Guinness Pro12.

Leinster took time to overcome their Wasps hangover as Sam Davies crossed at the corner to put the Ospreys in charge.  But Sean Cronin stunned the Liberty Stadium into silence when he showed wingers’ pace to score, before Dan Leavy crossed after the break.

Wales flanker Justin Tipuric crashed over and the Ospreys before replacement outside-half Byrne looked to have snatched it with a late drop-goal.

The Ospreys recovered the kickoff and earned a penalty, but Dan Biggar’s kick drifted agonisingly wide.

Biggar, on his 200th Ospreys appearance, hit the post with an early long-range penalty, but they did not have to wait long to draw first blood.

Rory Thornton claimed a line-out after the Leinster clearance before Josh Matevesi burst through the defensive line. The ball was then worked through the hands to Davies, who scored at the corner.

Biggar was off-target with his conversion but made amends moments later with a penalty to take them 8-0 clear. Leinster fought their way back into the contest through an unlikely source – Cronin, just back from a hamstring injury. The ball was spread wide to Zane Kirchner, who sucked in two defenders and fed the ball to the 105kg hooker, who turned on the gas to race around Biggar and score.

Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Sam Davies Source: CameraSport/Simon King/INPHO

Nacewa added the conversion and a penalty, but Biggar replied to give the Ospreys an 11-10 lead at half-time.

The hosts’ lead did not last for long. Cronin was at the heart of the action again with a strong carry to get Leinster to within two metres of the Ospreys’ line before Leavy burrowed over.

Nacewa added the extras to give Leinster a 17-11 lead after 45 minutes. This battle at the summit of the Pro12 took another turn Sam Davies sent a perfectly weighted penalty kick to touch.

Webb sniped to within inches of the post, before Tipuric wrestled his way over to give Davies an easy conversion to put the Ospreys back in charge.

Cullen’s men looked to be building towards a drop-goal to win it in the late stages, but Robbie Henshaw, who had impressed all afternoon, threw a wild pass into touch to dent their hopes.

However, they came again as the clock ticked into the 79th minute, and this time the ball was given to Byrne, whose drop-goal sailed over the bar to snatch a 20-18 triumph, before Biggar missed a chance to win it.

After all the twists and turns of an enthralling day in Swansea, Leinster return home with an even tighter grip on the top two play-off places as they now lead today’s third-placed opponents by nine points.

Scorers

Ospreys

Tries: Davies 5, Tipuric 61. Cons: Pens: Biggar 8, 40, Davies 62.

Leinster

Tries: Cronin 25, Leavy 45. Cons: Nacewa 26, 46. Pens: Nacewa 35. Drop-goal: Byrne 80.

Ospreys: Davies; Giles, Fonotia (Spratt 76), Matavesi, Evans; Biggar (Habberfield 56-66), Webb (c); Smith, Baldwin (Otten 56), Mujati (Fia 56), Ashley (Davies 56), Thornton (Ardron 45), Cracknell (Underhill 40), Tipuric, Baker.

Leinster: Nacewa; O’Loughlin (Kearney), Kirchner, Henshaw, McFadden; Carbery, Gibson-Park (N McCarthy 70) ; McGrath (Dooley), Cronin (Tracey 56), Furlong, Toner, Kearney (Nagle 56), Ruddock, van der Flier, Conan (Leavy 40).

Attendance: 8,102

Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)

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James Candy

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